“Jesus Never Fails”
An Update from the Youth Group Mission Trip to Philadelphia
Tuesday morning the Pillar Youth Group pulled up to the Helping Hand Rescue Mission, our service site for the morning. As we walked in, Rev. Matthew Gallashaw, the director of the mission, warmly welcomed us. While he welcomed us, my gaze was captured by a sign on the wall, which read: “Jesus never fails.” Throughout the rest of the week these three words both challenged me and comforted me; they would hit me like a left hook from Rocky Balboa and they would envelope me like a warm hug from a mother or a father.
Our week in Philadelphia started with dinner at an Indian restaurant and a talk at a local park about our “expectations” for the week. While we each had slightly different expectations, it was apparent that we were all excited to see how God would show Himself and His love throughout the week. Our “mission” during the week consisted of serving at a different ministry site each morning and volunteering at the Lighthouse after school program in the afternoons. The week was full of stories: stories of brokenness and reconciliation, stories of fear and hope, and stories of hate and love. Each night we would go out to eat at a different ethnic restaurant (a fantastic and incredibly tasty experience!). At the end of the evening we would “debrief” at a local park or at our housing site, and talk about how we had seen God at work that day. We would share our own stories and the stories of the people we had been working with that day. By the end of the week each of us on the trip had a new perspective on homelessness and poverty; we grew closer to each other; and together we experienced Jesus and his love in deep and profound ways. Please, take the time to ask the students about their stories from Philadelphia. After walking with them for a week, I know they each have an incredible story to share.
“Jesus never fails.” We have all experienced times in life when it is easy to say these words. But there are also times in life when it is incredibly hard to even utter these words. The words “Jesus never fails” hanging on a wall of a mission serving people hurt by drug addiction, homelessness, and other deep wounds are so much more than some “simple truth.”
Thursday night we had the daunting task of bringing a sack lunch to people who were homeless, and having a conversation with them. A couple of the students and I approached a man who had just been told to leave the subway by the police. He told us that he had only been homeless for about a month. He had been a medical tech in a hospital for over thirty years, but circumstances had left homeless for the past month. After telling us his story, he quietly said, “I’m giving myself one more week, then you can look for my name in the newspaper.” His words echoed the hopelessness that had so obviously overcome his spirit. I’m thankful that Jesus crossed our paths before his story ended. I’m thankful that the students were able to pray with him and share the truth found in 2 Corinthians 5. In that moment, the sign in the basement of the mission came to life. “Jesus never fails”… because the reality is that we do fail, and there are times when our failure drives us to want to give up on life itself. In Philadelphia we saw and experienced Jesus. We saw the brokenness and the hurt, but we also saw healing and reconciliation. We saw and experienced Jesus: Jesus, who never fails.
— Matt Mulder